To punish (someone) by dragging them through the water under the keel of the ship, either across the width or from bow to stern.
Surprisingly, I had a gift of drafting students to be my educational assassins. I think most of them liked me, but learned if they weren’t well behaved and didn’t turn in assignments, they would be keelhauled. They would also rat others out so them may witness me punishing them. I didn’t encourage that.
Collectively, we were reading a book and keelhauling was an ingredient to a story both women and children appreciated. While reading excerpts from of a book to the students called “The Secret Life of Charlotte Doyle”, a girl secretly aboard a ship was threatened to be keelhauled upon disapproval of the sailors. Her bravery properly developed the respect from the men aboard the ship. She was willing to go from bow to stern under water without a snorkel’s chance in Hell . She made it, and was recognized as a true mate.
While teaching English, this terrifically well behaved and bright young girl in my class who had read the book was the ace up my sleeve when supervisors attended my class to witness if I was worthy of being a teacher for a second year in the district. When the principal and superintendent arrived to observe, they were questioning students. I interjected. I told the one particularly bright student if her assignment was’t turned in properly, she would be keelhauled. My supervisor didn’t know what the hell we were talking about. He simply asked the student what that meant. She described it properly, using references to the book, and not only did it make my principal laugh, the district signed me to another contract. It was that easy.
Actually, it was never easy.